URBAN CHURCH: Reflections on a Transformative Journey
By Carlos Rizzon
I was blessed with the opportunity to study at the New Orleans Baptist Seminary in the South Florida branch, where I had the honor of learning from various professors, including the inspiring Pastor and Missionary Luiz Amaro. His classes on Philosophy and Epistemology, applied to the biblical context, left a profound impact on my way of thinking. The following year led me to the discovery of The Catalyst conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia, and I can truly say I was “catalyzed.” The theme of this leadership conference, even though I couldn’t attend in person, confirmed many aspects of what it means to be a true Christian—not in the context of the gospel era, the passionate, or the extravagant, but as someone who hears the good news that is indeed good and continually renewing, as the Lord refreshes His word in our hearts daily.
The vision of the Urban Church took shape in this setting, in this environment of Theological Seminary, Ancient Paths, and The Catalyst. It was the confirmation of many convictions. One of the texts that best illustrates the urban function or mission of the gospel is in John 4:23, where Jesus says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”
This verse represents a crucial point where Jesus begins to manifest grace, break paradigms, and establish the kingdom for which He was sent. He offers the world the only possible means of connection with God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Jesus shatters one of the biggest paradigms of the evangelical church by stating that there is no pre-defined format or location for worshiping God, only the condition of being in spirit and truth. By stopping near Jacob’s Well, Jesus challenges social barriers and engages in a dialogue with a Samaritan woman, demonstrating that true worship is not limited to specific places.
The Urban Church is born from this understanding. We are called to be the church even when we are not physically present in the local gathering. When I began working with the Ancient Paths Seminary in 2002, everything was new—from the message to the vision, the way of working, and the consideration of identity, destiny, and purpose that God has for each of us.
Pastor Craig Hill shared a unique perspective, emphasizing that everyone has a calling, not necessarily tied to traditional ecclesiastical roles. He illustrated this using the example of a carpenter, stressing that any activity could be an offering to the Lord, made with an attitude of worship.
By combining these teachings with philosophy lessons and the enriching experiences of The Catalyst, my understanding expanded over several years. The Urban Church we believe in is alive and apostolic, as described in Acts 2:42-47. It is everywhere the people of God are—in everyday life, interactions with others, business negotiations, and traffic—always with an attitude of worship in spirit and truth.
The Urban Church is a community connected to God, apostolic in its actions, and dedicated to authentic worship. We are called to go beyond traditional boundaries, to live out the gospel in every aspect of our lives. As Augustine said, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”
In the Urban Church we believe that the church does not have a mission, but it is the mission itself! John 20:21. NIV”… Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! … As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”. The Father sent the son Jesus, The son and the Father sent the Holy Spirit and the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit sent the church! Praise the Lord!
Thus, the journey continues, as we are called out, proclaiming the transformative message of the gospel everywhere and in every circumstance.
Belo Horizonte, 22/05/2008